Bile is an alkaline fluid which aids digestion and is released by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Your gallbladder stores bile until you eat, then releases bile into your small intestine to help digest food. It contains cholesterol, bile salts, and waste products such as bilirubin.
Bile ducts are drainage "pipes" that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and from the gallbladder to the small intestine. When one or more of the ducts that transport bile become blocked, it is known as a bile duct obstruction says Dr. Vivek Saraf.
Many of the conditions related to biliary obstructions can be treated successfully. However, if the blockage remains untreated for a long time, it can lead to life-threatening diseases of the liver.
What causes the bile duct blockage?
When the bile ducts become blocked, bile builds up in the liver, and jaundice (yellow color of the skin) develops due to the increasing level of bilirubin in the blood.
Some of the most common causes of bile duct obstruction include:
Gallstones are a common cause of bile duct obstruction. They can form when there is a chemical imbalance in the gallbladder. If they are large enough, they may block a bile duct as they pass through the biliary system.
- Bile duct or pancreatic cancer
Bile duct cancer refers to all cancers that develop within the biliary system. The resulting tumors may block a bile duct.
Pancreatic cancers can cause a bile duct obstruction if the tumor enters the intestine.
A blockage can sometimes result from an injury that occurs during a medical procedure, such as gallbladder surgery or endoscopy.
- Choledochal Cysts
Gastroenterologists in Ravipuram says choledochal cysts can sometimes cause bile duct obstructions. These cysts, which are sections of an enlarged bile duct, are congenital, meaning some people are born with them. They are also rare.
The other possible causes of a blocked bile duct include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the porta hepatis
- Inflammation of the bile ducts
- Narrowing of the bile ducts from scarring
- Liver and bile duct worms (flukes)
The symptoms of biliary obstruction can depend on the cause of the obstruction. People with biliary obstruction usually have light-colored stools, dark urine, jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin), itching, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fever.
How can you prevent Biliary obstruction?
One can’t exactly prevent bile duct from happening but Gastroenterologists in Kochi suggests that few changes you can make to lower your chances of developing it.
- Increase the amount of fiber in your diet.
- Decrease the amount of sugar and saturated fats in your diet. These can both cause gallstones.
- If you’re overweight, gradually get your weight into a healthy range for your sex, age, and height.
How can you treat Bile Duct Blockage?
Treatment aims to relieve the blockage and depends on the underlying cause. The primary objective of medical or surgical treatment is to alleviate the blockage.
Some of the treatment options include
A cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder if there are gallstones. This will stop the problem of gallstones reoccurring. People can lead healthy lives without a gallbladder.
- An ERPC
An ERCP may be sufficient to remove small stones from the common bile duct or to place a stent inside the duct to restore bile flow. This is often used in cases where obstruction is caused by cancer.
Doctors will do this either using an endoscope or by placing a needle through the skin. They will then treat cancer with a mix of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, depending on its type, size, and location.